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Six Nations: Italy squad profile

The recipients of the Wooden Spoon in 17 of the 23 tournaments since joining the expanded Six Nations in 2000, Italy will look to kick on from a winning end to last season's tournament.

Kieran Crowley's men won 22-21 in Wales on Super Saturday to end their 36-game losing streak in the tournament but have produced typically mixed results since that famous day in Cardiff. 

Falling to their first-ever defeat to Georgia only furthered calls for the Lelos to replace them in the Six Nations but the Italians bounced back in November to beat Samoa and record their maiden victory over Australia. 

Georgia's continued improvement means the pressure is on the Azzurri to prove they are still worthy of a place at European rugby union's top table but the Six Nations fixture list arguably works in their favour, with France, Ireland and Wales set to travel to Rome.

Confirmed squad 


Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive), Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby), Danilo Fischetti (London Irish), Matteo Nocera (Zebre Parma), Marco Riccioni (Saracens Rugby), Luca Rizzoli (Zebre Parma), Mirco Spagnolo (Petrarca Rugby), Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby), Luca Bigi (Zebre Parma), Marco Manfredi (Zebre Parma), Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton Rugby), Niccolò Cannon (Benetton Rugby), Marco Fuser (Massy), Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby), Andrea Zambonin (Zebre Parma), Lorenzo Cannon (Benetton Rugby), Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby), Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby), Giovanni Pettinelli (Benetton Rugby), Jake Polledri (Gloucester Rugby), Manuel Zuliani (Benetton Rugby).


Alessandro Garbisi (Benetton Rugby), Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby), Alessandro Fusco (Zebre Parma), Tommaso Allan (Harlequins), Giacomo Da Re (Benetton Rugby), Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby), Enrico Lucchin (Zebre Parma), Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby), Luca Morisi (London Irish), Pierre Bruno (Zebre Parma), Ange Capuozzo (Stade Toulousain), Matteo Minozzi (Benetton Rugby), Edoardo Padovani (Benetton Rugby).


Drafted in after Franco Smith's disappointing reign, Crowley looks to be guiding the Azzurri in the right direction. 

The Kiwi, who won 19 caps for the All Blacks, seems a man of few words but has the respect of his players, having coached several of them at Benetton. 

Crowley is under contract until after next year's World Cup and has hinted that he wants his team to move away from the traditional forward-based game synonymous with Italian rugby. 

Smith tried that without much luck but having honed his craft during spells in charge of Taranaki, New Zealand under-19s and Canada, his successor is sure to have plenty of ideas as to how to improve his side.

Possible First XV 

15. Ange Capuozzo 
14. Edoardo Padovani 
13. Juan Ignacio Brex 
12. Tommaso Menoncello 
11. Pierre Bruno
10. Tomasso Allan 
9. Stephen Varney 
8. Michele Lamaro 
7. Sebastian Negri 
6. Jake Polledri 
5. Federico Ruzza 
4. Marco Fuser 
3. Pietro Ceccearelli 
2. Luca Bigi 
1. Danilo Fischetti


Italy's tactics have always centred on being competitive up front and captain Michele Lamaro will look to drive his side from the back row. 

As well as being strong at scrum time, their line-out should also function, with lock Federico Ruzza the lynchpin. 

The 28-year-old won a tournament-best 28 line-outs during the 2022 Six Nations and will be central again. 

Italy's front row is also well stocked, with them able to go the full 80 minutes thanks to the depth provided by the likes of Saracens' Marco Riccioni off the bench.


Italy's efforts up front have often been undermined by a lack of quality among their backs. 

The Azzurri have been either the lowest or joint-lowest try scorers in the competition every year since 2019, with those campaigns all suggesting a case of nearly but not quite. 

Paolo Garbisi's injury robs them of some creativity but the emergence of youngsters Ange Capuozzo and Tommaso Menoncello gives them improved firepower behind the scrum. 

Crowley will need to get the best out of those two if he is to have any success in his attempts to play a more expansive game.

Related Six Nations News

Six Nations: France squad profile

Six Nations: Scotland squad profile

Six Nations: Wales squad profile

Key Players 

Tommaso Allan 

Garbisi's knee injury has opened the door for Allan to drive the side from fly-half and he could excel after failing to embrace his previous opportunities. 

The 29-year-old has impressed for Harlequins in Marcus Smith's absence this season and also demonstrated his versatility by filling in at full-back. 

A smooth operator on his day, he is likely to start at least the first three matches of the tournament and has the experience and quality to get the best out of those outside him.

Ange Capuozzo 

The architect of Edoardo Padovani's now famous winning try against Wales, the full-back burst onto the scene with a brace of scores on his debut against Scotland before setting up his colleague to cross for the decisive score in Cardiff. 

An off-season switch to Toulouse has meant he has had to fight for his minutes at club level but there is no doubt that he will be the spearhead of the Azzurri attack. 

Capuozzo's evasive running from 15 adds something to the Azzurri that has been missing from his country's attack for a generation.

Michele Lamaro 

Italy's heir to Sergio Parisse may have emerged in the form of Lamaro, who captains the side for the second straight Six Nations. 

The 24-year-old already looks to be the complete back-rower, with him capable of covering the six, seven and eight shirts. 

Lamaro's tally of 86 tackles was the best in last year's competition and he is again likely to lead by example on both sides of the ball.

Ones to Watch 

Matteo Minozzi used to be one of the great hopes of Italian rugby but injuries meant he slipped off the radar. 

However, he is back following a self-imposed international exile in which he looked to get his club career back on track. 

Whether he starts in the back three or off the bench remains to be seen but Minozzi has been reborn since returning to Benetton earlier this season and could remind the world of his talent. 

Centre Menoncello is another to look out for, with his free-flowing style enabling him to become the youngest try-scorer in the tournament's history at 19 years and 170 days when he scored in the defeat to France. 

The Benetton man will be central to Crowley's plans if the coach does decide this is the tournament to take the shackles off his side.


The Italians open their campaign at home to France and are 11/1 to beat Les Bleus for just the third time in their history, a price that sums up their Six Nations chances.  

Avoiding the Wooden Spoon will be their priority, with the Azzurri 1/6 to finish bottom of the table and 500/1 to shock the world by winning the Six Nations for the first time in their history. 

While they will not be short of endeavour and could perhaps set up to score more tries than in the past, Italy seem destined for another tough campaign against Europe's elite.

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